ILWACO — Surrounded by friends and family, 54 students of the Ilwaco High School Class of 2019 graduated the evening of Saturday, June 8.

As the Carl Aase gymnasium filled up with family, classmates, and former classmates back from college; the school band, under the direction of Rachel Lake, set the mood with lighthearted, upbeat songs, including some from “Aladdin” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Graduates entered to “Pomp and Circumstance” before Class President Alex Kaino introduced the national anthem.

A slideshow featured baby and childhood pictures and contemporary photos. Future plans for the class are concentrated most heavily in the medical field but include a diverse array of pursuits. Faith Simonson will join the Air Force, with eventual plans to become an ultrasound technician. Edward Hilliard III, who is already the host and chef at Dooger’s restaurant, will open the Drop Anchor restaurant in July. Some are taking time to decide what they want to do, and perhaps relax in a way they wouldn’t otherwise get to do until retirement. Chris Wood will spend time in Alaska as he ponders his future.

Not everyone gave solely career or college-related responses to the slideshow’s “future plans” prompt, though. Joseph Claassen’s goal is “living the best life I can.” He may enter the Coast Guard, something Deven Keeler is also considering. Calynne Weewie’s plan is “to be happy.” McKenzie Mulinix, who will attend the Pacific Northwest College of Art, revealed that her future plans involve cats.

Elizabeth “Ebby” McMullen, the faculty-selected speaker, noted in her address the well-rounded accomplishments of the class.

“We have a two-time state champ [300-meter hurdler Alex Kaino]; national participants for FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America]; our concert, jazz and marching bands have won many awards across the nation; we started Pathways in junior high.”

McMullen urged her classmates to set their sights beyond the typical measurements of success. “All of the money and accolades in this world will not mean anything without our connection to others.”

Citing Philippians – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; rather in humility value others above yourselves” — she added, “Class of 2019, I challenge you to take the love and support of this community with you and share it with others.”

Jebadiah “Jeb” Sheldon, the student-selected speaker, looked back on whimsical memories the Class of 2019 shared, including “wax ball,” a game where students take warm wax from their lunch wrappings and throw it at the ceiling, with the goal of sticking it to a target. Some of the wax is still there, “proof we have left a mark on Ilwaco High,” he said.

For life advice, he urged his fellow graduates to “Find something to buy into… something that you’re willing to live for.”

After Principal Dave Tobin’s farewell address, the graduates were awarded their diplomas as school counselor Sarah Taylor announced their names and any honors they had won.

Afterward, the class took a bus on a senior trip to Portland. The destination and activities were secret from them. They went on a murder mystery yacht ride, Bullwinkle’s Fun Center, Sky High Sports trampoline park, and Top Golf driving range.

The graduates were Waldon Andrews (highest honors), Adriana Araujo, Tori Beatty, Arianna Bell, Ashtin Bell, Aliscia Bravo, Brisa Bravo Esparza, Isabella Brownlee, Ashlyn Cavin, Joseph Claassen, Trenton Cox, Lilyana Doupe’, Brandon Duke, Elizabeth Ellars, Landin Frank, Kaylie Gaub-Holder, John Glenn (honors), Grace Heckes, Asusena Herrera-Sanchez, Edward Hilliard III, Sydney Homer, Jessamin Huntley-Stern (highest honors), Anna Jacks, Casandra Jewell, Madison Johnson, Jasmine Judd (highest honors), Alex Kaino (honors), Deven Keeler, Marquee Maragos, Elizabeth McMullen (highest honors), Nicholas Meisner, Jose Mendez-Hernandez, McKenzie Mulinix, Trystan Muth, Evan Perez, Ethan Personius (honors), Ian Powers, Tyler Ramirez, Tenyson Ramsey, Damaris Santiago Barajas, Jebadiah Sheldon (honors), Faith Simonson (highest honors), Emma Stark (highest honors), Jonathan Stewart, Anderson Stoddard, Jake Thorsen, Reese Tynkila, Nallely Valenzuela (highest honors), Zoey Warner, Alexis Hollis, Calynne Weewie, Adrian West, Ghannon Whelden and Christopher Wood.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or

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